Scientists have discovered two new antlion species of the Myrmeleontidae family of order Neuroptera from Kerala.
A research team of Shadpada Entomology Research Lab (SERL), Christ College, Irinjalakuda, Thrissur, is behind the discovery.
One of the species has been discovered in the forest area of Ranipuram in the Kasaragod district and Vallakadavu and Marayoor in the Idukki district. The species has been named Nemoleon ghoshi in honour of Dr. Sanath Kumar Ghosh, former scientist of the Zoological Survey of India for his expertise and excellence in the field of Indian neuropterology.
Another new antlion species has been discovered at Madayippara near the famous Madayi Kavu in Kannur district. The new species has been named Nemoleon madayiensis in reference to the distinct biological diversity of the region.
The findings have been published in the recent issue of international scientific journal Zootaxa. Doctoral scholar Suryanarayanan T. B; research supervisor and Assistant Professor of Christ College Dr. Bijoy C.; and Hungarian scientist Dr. Levente Ábrahám were part of the research team.
Adults of antlions are misidentified as damselflies by non-taxonomists because of their morphological resemblance. Antlions can be easily distinguished by their long distinct antennae. They come under Order Neuroptera, which includes holometabolous insects while the damselflies come under order Odonata which includes hemimetabolous insects, says Dr. Bijoy.
Antlions are commonly known for their pit-building habit. Larval stages of only some antlion genera construct the conical pits in loose dry soil as their predation strategy. Larvae of Nemoleon do not build pits, live under the surface in loose soils where they are protected from direct sunlight, wind and rain. The genus Nemoleon is reported for the first time from oriental region. This is the 5th and 6th antlion species reported from Kerala and 125th and 126th species from India, he noted.
The research was conducted with financial assistance from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), New Delhi. The Shadpada Entomology Research Lab (SERL) at Christ College has a special emphasis on researching such organisms.